Building a bridge to the future…

Monday 24 Oct 2011

Ninety foot road bridge manufactured from waste plastic

When sending your plastic bottles for recycling, where do you imagine they’ll end up -perhaps as another bottle or even a plastic bag? One innovative Welsh company have just completed a European-first - by turning 50 tonnes of waste plastic into a record 90ft Thermoplastic road bridge suitable for heavy goods vehicles.

Vertech Limited, a relatively new start-up company have partnered with Dawyck Estates, specialist bridge designer Cass Hayward LLP, Cardiff University’s School of Engineering, Rutgers University’s AAMIPP Department and Axion International - with support from the Welsh Assembly Government - to make the project a reality.

The bridge spans the River Tweed at Easter Dawyck in Peeblesshire and forms part of the historic John Buchan Way. It was built off-site and assembled in just 4 days by an outstanding team from Glendinning Groundworks Ltd, a local Peeblesshire contractor, and 10 Field Squardron (Air Support), Royal Engineers. Being made from plastic it won’t rust, requires no painting or regular maintenance; and get this - is 100% recyclable.

Vertech hope that this process can be used around Europe to make better use of our plastic waste and avoid sending it to landfill or shipping it to China. Vertech will also be manufacturing sheet materials using the same technology for use by the European construction sector as a replacement for plywood, MDF and laminates. In doing so, Europe would be able to convert a large volume of plastic waste into high performance and sustainable building materials to help meet its environmental targets.

William Mainwaring, co-founder and CEO of Vertech Limited said: “We shouldn’t be sending so much of the UK’s waste plastic to landfill nor should we be shipping it to China. With this unique technology we can now recycle it ourselves to produce increasingly sought after high quality and sustainable construction materials for the European market.”

Professor Robert Lark Deputy Director Cardiff University School of Engineering said that this had been ‘a unique opportunity to contribute to the development and assessment of a truly sustainable construction material. This initiative has the potential to deliver durable, low maintenance alternatives to traditional structures manufactured from recycled waste, the benefits of which should be far reaching both economically, socially and environmentally’.

Professor Tom Nosker, R&D 100 Award winner and Professor at Rutgers University, said: “I have appreciated the opportunity to work on this recycled thermoplastic composite bridge very much, and appreciate the trust and confidence that has been extended by all involved to attempt this, which is probably considered by most as crazy. This bridge is the most beautiful I have worked on, and it went up in less than 2 weeks, which has to be some kind of a record for a 90 foot road bridge.”

Vertech are now on a mission to demonstrate the significant engineering properties of its recycled materials for use in the European construction sector - particularly as a replacement for less environmentally sound engineered timber and laminated products. In 2012 the company plans to open a manufacturing facility in North Wales to manufacture its thermoplastic composite materials for the European Market.

Contact Vertech for further details. Please mention WAN.

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United Kingdom
Urban design

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